December 2nd, 2018

PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT

As a full-time pro for over 25 years, the gear I take on assignment depends on what is needed. Contrary to what it might look like, I prefer to work with the minimum amount of equipment.

My personal kit is a digital Leica camera, usually an M rangefinder with a 50mm f/2 lens. This is for pure seeing, shooting slowly and deliberately. A mirrorless Leica Q accompanies it with a 28mm f/1.7 lens and 10 fps for fast action. If I feel really adventurous, I’ll carry along my DJI Mavic Pro 2 drone with its 28mm fov Hasselblad lens.

Being familiar with the gear is most important to me. To that end, I’ve always carried some form of Leica in my kit – a camera I’ve used since 1979.

When Leica discontinued their SLR system in 2009, I switched to the autofocus Canon EOS DSLR. I carry a minimum of three Canon digital camera bodies for my editorial and commercial work now, each with its own lens attached. They are usually mounted with a 16-35mm f/4 EF IS-L, 24-105mm f/4 EF-L IS, 50mm f/1.4 EF, or 70-200mm f/2.8 II EF IS-L lens. A 1.4X EF extender III makes for a longer and closer focusing telephoto.

Specialty lenses like Canon’s 14mm f2.8 EF-L II, 15mm f/2.8 EF fisheye, 24mm f/1.4 EF L II, 35mm f/2 EF IS-II, and 500mm f/4 EF IS L are enlisted as needed. A 250D close-up lens converts my standard Canon 50mm lens into a usable macro.

Leica’s discontinued 80mm f/1.4 R-lens renders the best skin tones and bokeh, so I adapted it to my Canon cameras. The Leica 180mm f/3.4 APO-R lens continues to be one of the lightest solutions for a longer telephoto with outstanding rendering, so it was converted for my back up.

One or more Gitzo tripods are implemented with a ball head and/or pan head and cable release. GoPros and DJI drones are employed for specialized filmmaking and unusual still angles.

Most of the time, 18 MP is all you need (it’s as good as a scan from a Kodachrome 64 slide). 24 MP is a bit better, and 50 MP is significantly sharper. The Canon 5DS-R performs extremely well in this regard. I’ll also shoot with a medium format digital system when appropriate or as requested.

The Profoto B1X 500 portable flash system has proven ideal for lighting subjects. So a pair of these are added to my kit as needed. A pair of Canon Speedlites with modifiers provide supplementary fill. A Zacuto Z-finder and a Rode microphone handle basic video. My Apple Macbook Pro, with two Lacie external hard drives, remains essential on the road.

Photography equipment is simply a tool. Seeing and having something to say are MUCH more important. That said, I look for gear that is of the highest quality, easy to use, and produces characterful rendering.

Note: The following list is constantly being updated

**

I. MAIN KIT:

#1 DP Carry On – Rolling Pelican Case

Leica Q camera with 28mm f/1.7 Asph-IS lens – on person
Canon EOS 5DS R camera
Canon EOS 5D Mk III camera
Canon EOS 1DX camera
Canon 16-35mm f/4 EF-L IS lens
Canon 24-105mm f/4 EF-L IS lens
Canon 50mm f/1.4 EF lens
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 EF-L IS II lens
Canon Tele-Extender EF 1.4X III
250D close-up lens
GoPro with mount
Extra storage cards, batteries, chargers
Polarizers, ND filters, remote release
Rode microphone
Sensor cleaning kit

DP Additonal Carry On (Filson Wet Bag):

DJI Mavic Pro 2 drone w/ controller and spare batteries
Mac Book Pro & External hard drives
Headphones, music, sunscreen, eye drops, passport, phone, wallet, money, papers, snacks, water bottle

#2 Asst. Carry On – Pelican Case

Canon EOS 5D Mk III camera
Canon 24mm f/1.4 EF-L II lens
Canon 35mm f/2 EF IS-II lens
GoPro w/ bacpac battery and viewer, plus mounts (1-7 units)
Zacuto Z-finder
Portable 8-track recorder
More storage cards and batteries
Gaffer tape
Cellphone, wallet, passport, snacks, water bottle

Asst. Additonal Carry On (Backpack):

Clothes, passport, money, external HD, dopp kits

#3 Checked Bag – Pelican Case

Gitzo 226 tripod w/ Leica ball head
Nikon 55mm f/2.8 Macro lens converted to Canon
Leica 180mm f/3.4 APO-R lens converted to Canon
Canon Tele-Extender EF 2X III
Leica M-E rangefinder with a 35mm f1.4 and 50mm f2 Leica lens
Profoto B1X and/or Godox 600 portable lighting kit
Pocket Wizards, flash adaptor rings
Canon 600EX-RT flash units
Interfit battery
VarioColor LED
Leica SF20 flash
Right Angle Finder
Extension tube
Soft boxes, light stands, sandbags
More battery chargers
Tenba or backpack shoot bag

#4 Checked Bag – Large Pelican Case or Rolling Cooler

Gitzo 320 tripod w/ Micro-D 360 ball head
Canon 500mm f/4 EF-L IS lens
Leica 18mm, 90mm, and 135mm M-lenses (as needed)
Canon 14mm f/2.8 EF-L II lens (as needed)
Canon 15mm f/2.8 EF lens (as needed)
Zacuto Z-finder and Rode microphone (2nd unit)
Bogen fluid head
Leitz table tripod, Super Clamps, and ball head
Charging accessories
More clothes (as needed)

**

II. SECOND KIT: BIGGER PRODUCTIONS

As needed. All of the above, plus another assistant:

Portable automotive studio
Rhino slider
Mathews suction cups and Manfrotto Super Clamps
Marshall monitor, cables
Rode Blimp with Sennheiser shotgun microphone
Soft boxes for ProFoto
A/C Flash, soft boxes
Tungsten Lighting: Lowell Tota-light kit
Daylight Lighting: LED lights, Westcott 150W Ice Light
Portable Studio: Overhead Silk, Backdrops and free-standing support stands
Manfrotto Avenger C stands, Super Clamps sand bags
Camera Car, Harness
Broom, leaf blower, ladders
Budget

More for Production Video:

Gitzo 400 or 500 tripod and large Bogen fluid head
KenLab Gyrostabilizer
Roxant Pro camera stabilizer for GoPro
Wimberly head
More Leica R fixed lenses converted to Canon
Zacuto eyepieces, Marshall monitors and hoods
Hasselblad Pro lens shades, filter adapters
Leitz table tripod with ball head, dolly roller
Handgrip, roller table, light meter
Budget

III. THIRD KIT: BIGGEST PRODUCTIONS

As needed, All of the above, plus two or more strong assistants:

More Gear for Stills (All Rented):

Medium format digital cameras and lenses (various)
More portable ARRI and AC flash systems
More light stands, soft boxes, umbrellas and grids
Lenses with character: Leica 80mm f/1.4 R, Pentax Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4, Nikkor 105 f/2.5 – all converted to Canon EOS, Zeiss Jena 50mm f/1.5 converted to Leica M
Analog: Leica M system, Leica SL/R system, Nikon F system, Canon EOS, Hasselblad V system, Fuji G617, Nikonos IV
Budget

More Gear for Video (All Rented):

Steady Cam and operator
Canon C300 cameras, Arri Mini, Alexa and/or Red Epic with Leica lenses
Bron Kobold or Joker Bug HMI
Marshall monitors, audio rigs
Various handgrips, rigs, sticks, sliders, rollers & dollies
More Drones
Chase Car
Budget

**

Note that there is back up redundancy throughout. After the shoot, the used digital cards stay in a secure holder inside a zippered vest pocket on my person. As soon as I return to my hotel, the RAW files are backed up on my computer, Dropbox, and two hard drives. The drives are kept in different locations, or one is FedExed home. I love what I do, but I’ve also learned not to assume anything.